Former Lee County standout running back Jahmir Smith announced on Twitter Thursday that he’s leaving Notre Dame’s football program to focus on his mental health.
“Talking about mental health issues is a difficult subject matter for many,” Smith wrote on Twitter. “For those struggling with mental health, asking for help can be discouraging, but it is the first step toward improving.
“I have decided to take that first step, and after speaking with my family and Coach Kelly, I have decided that it is best for me to take some time away from football to work on improving my mental health.”
— mir (@realjahmirsmith) October 21, 2020
A junior, Smith had played in just one game for Notre Dame this season — the season opener against Duke, where he carried the ball five times for 15 yards. He ran for 180 yards on 42 carries as a junior and scored twice, and had six carries for 28 yards as a freshman. At Lee County High School, Smith set school records for rushing and touchdowns, hitting the 2,000-yard, 40-touchdown mark as a junior.
But the games and stats aren’t important — Smith’s decision to go public with mental health issues and his tweet on Oct. 21 earned praise from Notre Dame fans and the sports media. “Jahmir Smith shows courage in quitting Notre Dame football,” an article in Forbes read on Friday.
While Smith has yet to further explain his decision, head coach Brian Kelly commended Smith during his Friday press conference.
“Jahmir is the opposite of weak,” Kelly said. “He’s a strong young man, and I love Jahmir for his courage, more than anything else. … It’s always been a concern when you’re playing a competitive game, one where there’s so many pressures to live up to expectations, whether they be your own or others’.”